Breast implants – what to expect? Introduction There are times when our expectations exceed the result we get and times when the result is far greater of what we would have expected. People tend to listen to myths or read opinions of others that have similar experiences. This applies to breast implants, too. Traditional myths say they are dangerous and cause cancer that they will look fake, you will not be able to breastfeed, or, on the contrary, that they will improve your image, you will have huge breasts, everyone will envy you, etc. Regarding personal opinions you should know that each and every one of us is unique and what is ok for your look and body, it might be totally wrong for someone else, and your body could have no reaction at all at some stimuli, and another one could even die from the same. The idea is that you need to embark on this journey of appearance change with realistic expectations. Before surgery expectations So, one of the first things you need to understand is that it is not possible to enter the surgery as an A cup and get out with a D cup. Doctors are scientists and not magicians. Your tissues and muscles are not prepared to sustain twice or thrice the weight they have been carrying until then. To be able to get a good result and a satisfied patient, they will evaluate you. They will perform some measurements, do some 3-D computer imaging for you to get the idea of how you might look with different sizes and shapes, they will asses your general health, your risks for capsular contracture or any other possible complication. Only after this, he will be able together with you to decide correctly on all the aspects of your surgery: size, shape, and structure of your implants, incision and healing process. Even if breast implants surgery is one of the most common types of plastic surgery performed worldwide, it doesn’t mean is not an operation. It still entails a scalpel, stitches, blood, bandages and recovery time. So, you need to expect to experience all the symptoms and downsides that usually come with surgery, a simple one, but still one. That said if you are a smoker, your doctor will advise you to quit at least two weeks before and after your surgery. This is because nicotine and smoking, in general, can cause complications during and after the surgery such as bleeding, infection, etc. If you are taking any medication as part of regular or temporary treatment, you need to tell your doctor, even if they are not medicine and just supplements. There are some drugs, vitamins, and supplements that need to be discontinued for some time before and after the surgery. Expectations during the surgery This surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, but it can also be done under a local one. The difference for you is that in the first case you will be asleep, and in the second the operated area will be numb and feel no pain, but you will be awake. Each option should also be discussed with your plastic surgeon and decided upon carefully. The operation does not take more than two hours, usually less, and after a few hours spent in recovery, most of the patients will be able to go home and continue the recuperation process there. The incision is not usually large, and in the case of saline implants, it can be even smaller since these implants are filled in during the operation, so they will need little space to be inserted. After surgery expectations As I was saying, most breast augmentation surgeries do not require hospitalization overnight unless complication appears. After the surgery is over and you be sent home, you will surely experience some pain. The degree of pain felt depends on your individual healing process, but also on the placement of the implant. If the implants are placed above the chest muscle, the pain is usually minimal. But if the implants are inserted below the muscle, then the pain is expected to be much higher and last longer. The explanation is quite simple: if the implant is put below, the muscle needs to be lifted, so it will be pulled and generate pain. Pain will go away in just a few days, and it can be managed with pain medicine or even with just some muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medicine (like Ibuprofen). Your breasts will not look right away as you expect. You don’t need to be disappointed by this, and you must be aware of this aspect. First, they will be swollen, and this swelling will peak in the first week after your surgery. Initially, that will make your breasts be even a size bigger than the result. In time the swelling will go down gradually up to three months after the surgery until will disappear. Again, the implant placement has an important role, because if the implant is put below the muscle the swelling will be more significant, and it will last longer. You need to avoid making specific movements with your arms and use ice packs, and you will get through this just fine. You need to avoid any heavy lifting or challenging physical work. In the first week, it is best just to rest and sleep as much as possible to be able to recuperate fast. Any kind of exercise should be stopped and resumed only after four to six weeks after the surgery was completed. You should even take time off your work, even if this does not suppose any movement at all. In anyways, in most cases, people are back on their feet and resume their normal life (except for the exercise routine) in no more than a week. Your breast might not look the same; one might be slightly different than the other. Then, they will both seem too high, and your chest skin will feel tight. Your initial reaction will probably be fear that the operation was unsuccessful. Rest assured, all you are feeling is normal for all breast implants surgery. Your body needs time to accommodate its new guests, so the implants will settle and drop to a more natural position within six weeks after your operation. To help your tissues recover and avoid any complications, you will need to buy a surgical bra and wear it up to four weeks after your surgery. After this time your doctor might advise you to wear for some months a sports bra until you will return to your regular bras. The scars from the operations will be red at the beginning, and they will begin to heal, reduce in size and get to become just a red line in some time after the surgery. The scar will not ever disappear, but it will become less and less visible, but this will also depend on the skill of your plastic surgeon. One other important aspect of your breast implants surgery is the way you will be sleeping at night. For at least six weeks after your surgery, you will not be able to sleep on your chest. So, if you are a tummy sleeper, it might be a good idea to try and sleep on your back for some time before the surgery. Possible complications What complications might appear that are relevant to this kind of operation? The most known one is the capsular contracture. A level of contracture happens in all surgeries and is the body response to the presence of a foreign object. It means that scar tissue is formed around it. It becomes a problem when this scar tissue is thicker than normal and starts contracting. This will lead to pain and the deformation of the implant and breast. There is no way to predict this complication, but there some things you might do to prevent or reduce the risk at a minimum. There are: the placement of the implant below the muscle, using a saline implant, quit smoking before surgery, massage after the operation. Another complication might be the rupture and leaking of the implant. Rupture is easily noticed in saline implants because they will immediately deflate. With the silicone implants, you can develop symptoms like pain or swelling that will inform you that something is wrong, but you can also feel nothing. That is why many doctors recommend an annual meeting and screening with your plastic surgeon to check if all is ok. Long-term expectations Deciding to have a breast augmentation surgery means you are fully aware that you will have at least two operations for this. That is because breast implants are not lifetime guaranteed. Recommendations from medical boards say that they must be changed after a maximum of 14 years. Experience has shown that saline implants last less, somewhere between three and nine years, while silicone implants might even get to 20 years. Some women who had implants have developed connective tissue disease that are afflictions that involve the bones, fat, cartilages and affect joints, muscles, skin, eyes, etc. They are usually characterized by unexplainable muscle and joints pains, fatigue, breathing issues, etc. The American Food and Drug Administration has found no evident connection between implants and these kinds of disease. You will still be able to breastfeed your child when you decide you want one or when you want to have another one. Tell your doctor your plan, and he will take into consideration when strategizing your surgery. Still, there are some cases when you can lose this ability. If you are over 40 or get there after your surgery, you may still do mammography. Some women are afraid to perform this analysis after breast implants surgery because popular mythology says they might break during the procedure. Medicine is an advanced science, and a good radiologist should have no problem in doing risk-free mammography if previously announced. Breast implants will make you feel better about how you look and will surely give you more confidence. But they will not prevent your breasts from aging and going through any other transformations like after giving birth or breastfeeding after gaining or losing weight. All these of the above will probably need more surgery to adapt to the way your body changed. Conclusion It is important to know that 98% of the people undergoing this surgery have a full satisfaction rate. They are happy and feel great about the results. Anything you do in life is risky, even crossing the street, so if you feel you must have better-looking breast, you should do it. After all, breasts are for women a beacon of femininity and sexuality and should not generate fear or shame.